Words of wisdom

As I’m sure many other people do, I write down quotes that amuse me.

Many of these come from the mouths of the two delightful assistants, aka my mum and dad, and I record them in this book:


A plain burgundy hardback notebook – it doesn’t look much from the outside but there are treasures within.

It’s quite old, this notebook. In fact, it dates back to the 1960s, when it belonged to my dad.

He had the idea of using it to record the books he’d read and the first 18 pages have a book title on each one.

This is the very first entry, showing a book that was read to him in 1967 (by my eldest brother, he thinks), and then read by him on three more occasions before 1970. He must have really liked it.


Page one of the burgundy notebook.

I’ve tried to do this sort of thing myself, but I invariably forget to add some books as I finish them and eventually the project dies a natural death.

Much more successful has been my recording of quotes.

Over the years my dear pater has been getting deafer and deafer and some of the quotes that tickle me most are those involving his mishearing of things other people say. The quotes that follow will probably appeal to my immediate family more than anyone else, but you might be able to imagine the amusement caused.

My sister: “I want to see your receipt.”

Dad: “My feet?”

My sister: “RECEIPT!”

Dad: “Oh. I thought you were thinking about getting me slippers for Christmas.”

Mum: “There’s three bags to take to Flora’s.”

Dad: “Did you say something to me about teabags?”

My sister: “I meant to bring slips.”

Dad: “You met Prince Philip?”

Dad: “I think I”ll have a wee sit down.”

Mum: “I think you should have a big sit down.”

Dad: “Yes, I think I will have a biscuit.”

Recently my mum’s started to mishear things occasionally, too, such as the time when there was excavation work being done in the garden and one of the diggers (a JCB) got an oil leak.

Lorna: “Dad gave a hand towel to Derek, the boy with the JCB.”

Mum: “What boy who died of TB?”

Both of the parents can be quite droll.

Lorna: “I know a trick with a cake.”

Mum: “Do you? It’s called the vanishing trick. You vanish with the cake, is that right?”

My brother Fergus: “The Tay and Forth bridges were closed.”

Mum: “Entirely closed?”

Dad: “No, just half way across.”

Mum: “You really are looking slimmer today.”

Dad: “I’m wearing a tight vest.”

Lorna (to Dad): “And what made you change your mind?”

Mum: “Common sense.”

Dad: “Or a nagging wife.”

Mum: “It comes to the same thing.”

If you’ve read this far you’ll be needing a picture by now. Here’s an apple and cranberry scone I had earlier this week at Gloagburn Farm Shop and Tearoom:


A festive apple and cranberry scone at Gloagburn, surprisingly flavoured with vanilla. Delightful assistant no.1 wasn’t too struck by the vanilla addition but I enjoyed it.

In addition to the book of quotes I’m thinking of collecting together my mum’s wise sayings. These are statements that she comes out with now and then, and in which she appears to believe completely and utterly. For example:

“It’s easier to get a fat person thin than a thin person fat.”

“The hours before midnight are more beneficial than those after.”

When I was at university one of my chums was entertained by the fact that I often wrote down word for word the things our lecturers said. My lecture notes frequently had things scribbled on them in quotation marks, and after seeing me do this she began doing it herself.

Little did I know that she was transferring them into a notebook which she eventually gave me for Christmas, on the front of which she had written “Lorna’s little book”.

I still have that book and some of the quotes inside it are from a rather eccentric chap who taught Behavioural Ecology. He was a bit absent-minded but very sincere and liked to make sure that we understood what he was trying to get across.

“There’s a meeting for those studying biological sciences. That’s biological science students.”

(on describing the behaviour of bee-eaters) “A bird is cleaning out a hole. You could call that hole-cleaning.”

“They move around in groups of one, which isn’t really a group at all, is it?”

Back at Gloagburn, before I ate the scone pictured above I had a very filling and tasty sandwich. If I were to ask you to guess the filling I wonder what you’d say:


What’s in the sandwich?

The sandwich filling was, in fact, curried banana chutney with cheese.

Lastly, here’s something my dad said to a nurse at the local medical centre recently when he was going for a general health check. I can imagine him speaking in his usual confident manner, and the nurse looking astonished. He says her eyebrows shot up as he was speaking.

Nurse: “How tall are you?”

Dad: “I can’t remember it in metric but I do remember the feet and inches: 8 ft 5. When I went into the army they measured me and said they’d build me up. Do people shrink as they get older? Because I think I’m smaller than I used to be.”


The delightful assistants: smaller than they’re prepared to admit.


37 thoughts on “Words of wisdom

  1. My favourite quote is the vanishing trick with the cake one. We know that one’s true! Enjoyed these quotes. I don’t think delightful assistant number two is eight foot five and your banana and cheese chutney sandwich looks almost as good as the scone!

    • Thanks David, there’s no denying the truth about the cake. I forget what the real trick was now. Delightful assistant no.2 has never been 8ft 5 to my knowledge, even when he was in the army. That sandwich was first class, lots of filling and exceptionally soft and deliciously fresh bread.

  2. Just as I was thinking that was a good-looking sandwich I spotted “curried banana” and I’m not so sure now 😦 I used to keep a list of books I wanted to read, but I’m not even very good at updating in Goodreads. “The lion, the witch and the wardrobe” is worth a read or two, isn’t it? I’ve just booked a visit to Chatsworth House and they have a Narnia at Christmas theme going on. Meeting Lisa there. Quite excited! πŸ™‚

    • Curried banana is an unusual chutney, that’s for sure, but it was very tasty. Not to everyone’s taste, perhaps. I’m useless at updating Goodreads, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever done it beyond when I registered ages ago. It’s many years since I read any of the Narnia books but there’s a documentary on iplayer about C S Lewis that I’d like to watch and that might spur me on to read them again. That event at Chatsworth sounds magical, I hope you have a lovely time! πŸ™‚

  3. See now, I did in fact guess chutney and grated cheese. And now I’m hungry for some πŸ™‚ And I am going to have to quote your mother sometime re common sense. I like that one very much, and wholeheartedly agree πŸ™‚

  4. Loved reading your post…how lovely your family is, a joy to get to know through your eyes (and writing). Thank you for sharing, you made my morning πŸ™‚

  5. Lorna
    LOVED the quotes! No, a group of one isn’t really a group… I wish I ahd written down more of my own family’s brilliant conversations. I will say my mother said one thing that I have used as a guide through my life
    “How would you like it if someone did that to you?”

    Thanks for the words of wit and wisdom and the mouthwatering photos of food! As usual

    Also up Goodreads. Can’t keep it updated. Too busy reading.

    • Thank you Kathleen, that is a fine mantra your mother gave you, always worth remembering. I like your comment about not updating Goodreads because you’re too busy reading, I must bear that in mind. πŸ™‚

  6. I love your stories and anecdotes, Lorna! That book of quotations is an excellent idea, and a lovely record of things that would otherwise be totally forgotten. Your lecturers should be flattered that their words have been immortalised!

    I agree with your Mum about the hours before midnight. I think your Dad has a chronic case of selective hearing – I can diagnose this, as my own Dad developed exactly the same ‘complaint’ and refined it into an art form. He heard what he wanted to, and put the happiest slant on the rest! You could never get anything sensible out of him about his time in the army, either.

    I would have said the sandwich had cheese and chutney in it, but curried banana? Strangely, that sounds quite good, though I’m not too fussed about bananas as a rule.

    • Thanks very much, Jo! That business of the hours before midnight is something I’ve believed all my life and a few years ago when someone asked me why I went to bed so early I quoted it. The response was that it was a lot of twaddle, which rather took me aback. I mentioned this to my mum and she laughed and admitted that she had used it as a way of getting me into bed early as a child. I still can’t quite shake the belief, it’s too deeply ingrained. As for my dad’s selective hearing you’re bang on the button there! After I’d written this post he told me he’d been making a deliberate effort to mishear in amusing ways, which I think is the first time he’s ever admitted that.

      I was very curious about the curried banana, which was what made me try it. I’ve had it a few times now and each time I’m surprised by it. You can taste the banana, but it’s not too powerful, so you might like it.

  7. I loved this post so much I read it twice. I love all the quotes. I do wish I had recorded some of the things my Dad said. We called it farmer philosophy. Sometimes it was very funny and most times it was very practicle and wise. What a precious little book you have.

    • Thanks very much, Darlene. I’m delighted that you enjoyed the quotes and I can well imagine your dad would have had some cracking ‘farmer philosophy’ to share. I’m glad I’ve kept that wee book and I still add to it now and then. Unfortunately, I’m sure I’ve lost some snippets of wisdom that were hurriedly scribbled down on a scrap of paper and never made their way into the book, but at least some have survived.

  8. Oh Lorna, how I loved this post. I am hard of hearing too and my husband and I often have a laugh about things that I have misheard.
    By the way I thought it was spaghetti in the sandwich!

    • Thanks Annie, it might be a bit of a shock to hear the Scottish accents! Years ago one of my flatmates answered the phone while I was out and when I got back home he told me there had been a call for me. When I asked if he knew who it was he said ‘I don’t know, but it was the most Scottish man in the world.’ It was my dad.

  9. These are quite delightful, and I do think that’s a great idea to record these moments. As a writer I kick myself for not recoding more of what I hear verbatim. My husband can make me shout with laughter, then ten minutes later I cannot recall the exact exchange and nothing less works.

    • Thank you Hilary, your husband sounds like a great source of amusement! I can sympathise with your recording problem because there are times when I don’t record things straight away and then I can’t remember them even a short time later. As you say, it has to be done in that moment.

  10. You’re delightful assistants are a hoot! Those quotes gave me quite a chuckle. What a good idea it is to keep track of them. We don’t think we’re going to forget things like that, but we often do. Now they’re recorded for all posterity.

    • Thank you Lucinda, I’ve learned that I always need to write things down if I want to remember them. I’m sure I’ve lost some gems through not recording them at the time, but such is life!

  11. That is just brilliant, Lorna! Michael and I were howling with laughter. Some of it is a bit close to home! Your delightful assistants are even more delightful than we’d known before. And obviously FAR taller than photographs would suggest… thanks for that.

  12. Oh, I write what my professors say word for word too when I’m taking notes! An algebra one once had a habit of calling some of the harder problems ‘icky’ – I’d write it down and then put ‘icky’ in the margins! Sometimes the verbal explanations are the best, aren’t they! And cake vanishing sounds promising. I’ll have to look into it. πŸ˜‰

  13. I have to admit to giggling along to this post – but best of all was the picture of the “delightful assistants” you must share with them how much they add to the blog posts just by there inclusion πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Scott, that’s a lovely comment. The delightful assistants read all my posts and regularly drop back to read comments, and I’m sure they’ll be delighted to see this one. πŸ™‚

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